The First Look: Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
March 01, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Francesco Molinari's winning highlights from Arnold Palmer
Francesco Molinari returns to Bay Hill to defend last year’s win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard but in order to do it, he’ll have to top world No.1 – and 2018 champ – Rory McIlroy, recent World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship winner Patrick Reed, and several notable Orlando, Florida, residents.
Bay Hill will once again be the final event before the PGA TOUR’s signature tournament, THE PLAYERS Championship.
RELATED: Inside The Field
FIELD NOTES: McIlroy, who will defend his title next week at TPC Sawgrass, has made five starts this PGA TOUR season and has finished inside the top-5 each time. … Rickie Fowler hopes to rebound from a missed cut at The Honda Classic, his second MC in his last three starts. … Notable Orlando residents Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, and Graeme McDowell are all in the field… Last year’s runner-up, Matthew Fitzpatrick is still searching for his first PGA TOUR win; the second-place finish was his best result in 61 career PGA TOUR starts. … Matt Every, Robert Gamez, Jason Day and Marc Leishman join McIlroy and Molinari as past winners teeing it up again. … Every’s two PGA TOUR wins came in back-to-back years at Bay Hill (2014-15). … Phil Mickelson, another past champion, makes his second-straight appearance at Bay Hill after playing last year for the first time since 2013. … Recent winners Reed, Adam Scott, Viktor Hovland and Nick Taylor will be looking for their second win this season.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.
COURSE: Bay Hill Club & Lodge, 7,454 yards, par 72. Bay Hill hosted its PGA TOUR event in 1979. Arnold Palmer bought the property in the 1970s and his legacy lives on at the storied Florida venue.
GOLFBREAKS: BAY HILL
Follow in the footsteps of the world’s best golfers on your next vacation with a trip to the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR take all the hassle out of booking your golf trip, and with their Best Price Guarantee, you’ll know you’re always getting an incredible deal. For more information, click here.
STORYLINES: Brandon Matthews will be making his PGA TOUR debut on a sponsor exemption. A fan with special needs inadvertently caused Matthews to miss a putt during a sudden-death playoff on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica last year, but the way he compassionately responded to the fan was Arnold Palmer-like, according to tournament organizers. Tweeted Matthews after receiving the invite: What an incredible honor to be able to get the chance to compete in the @APinv as my first PGA tour event. Words can’t describe how grateful I am for this opportunity. … Viktor Hovland, who won the Puerto Rico Open, was an amateur last year at Bay Hill when he made the cut and finished T40. He turned pro three months later. … The winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational will receive a three-year exemption on TOUR instead of the usual two, thanks to its elevated status. ... Past tournament winner Marc Leishman, Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer, and Grammy-award winner Darius Rucker are the 2020 tournament ambassadors.
72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Payne Stewart (1987).
18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Andy Bean (2nd round, 1981), Greg Norman (2nd round, 1984), Adam Scott (1st round, 2014).
LAST YEAR: A sizzling 8-under 64 (the low round of the week) sent Francesco Molinari into the winner’s circle, as he won for the third time in 12 TOUR starts. On the par-4 18th, the site of so much drama over the years, Molinari punctuated his victory with a 44-foot birdie putt. It was the second consecutive year the winner shot 64 in the final round, with McIlroy doing the same in 2018. ... Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick was runner-up while Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood, and Rafa Cabrera Bello finished T3.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Television: Thursday-Friday, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, 2:30 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel). Sunday, 2:30 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Groups and Featured Holes).
Radio: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio).